(This post brought to you by nothing more than catching sight of my flower tattoo in the bathroom mirror and smiling at it.)
I have a daisy tattooed on my lower back, which makes me as original as 75% of any woman who's ever been a college freshman. I got it on a whim, which is how I made most of my decisions back then. Well, either "on a whim" or "on a lot of tequila," but definitely one of those. I wanted to pierce my bellybutton but have always hated my bellybutton, so a tattoo felt like the logical alternative.
I don't even know. I was 18.
It's faded now, of course, and it's ridiculous and has no meaning AND IS SERIOUSLY A DAISY, but I still love it. You'd think at 30 I'd regret the hell out of it--that I should regret the hell out of it--just like I should regret the boys I "dated" that year (we'll go ahead and put dated in quotes and leave it at that), the amount of time I didn't study that year, the number of Keystone Lights I drank that year, or how over-tweezed my eyebrows were that year.
I don't regret any of it.
(Okay, maybe the eyebrows.)
18 was my hardest year, hands down, and that includes my first year of motherhood, which you'd think would be a lot tougher than a year that didn't include actual responsibility or any debt or even a regular job. But I was complete mess that year, getting tattoos, dating inappropriate people, drinking (cheap and disgusting) beer with reckless abandon, and trying to figure out how to stop throwing up so many of my meals. Or, really, trying to throw up more of my meals without anyone noticing.
My brain never stopped buzzing. I didn't know who I was. I was unhealthy. I was lost. I thought I might be a girl who walked into a grungy tattoo parlor, picked out the first unoriginal flower she saw, and slapped it onto her back forever and ever. Turns out I wasn't that girl--or wasn't just that girl, thank God--but I'm okay that I pretended to be that night.
I don't really see it much. It's on my lower back, an area I only catch a glimpse of in the bathroom mirror from time to time. I'm always a little surprised to see it, actually. "Oh! You're still there?" I think to myself. After everything else has faded from that lost and broken first year away from home, it remains.
I see it and think of that first boy, that first test (that I failed), those long, silent walks to early classes in whatever clothes I picked up off the floor. It reminds me of all those poor choices, of picking the wrong boys, the wrong friends, the wrong tattoo, of being an 18-year-old who was just crossing her fingers she'd make it to the other side in one piece.
She did, I did, and we have the memories, scars, and tattoo to prove it.
I'm proud of them all.